SA's IT chief revises contract deadline

The process of retendering $1 billion worth of IT contracts by the South Australian government may not reach completion until early 2007.

The contracts are being put to competitive tender following the breakup of the state's 'big bang' outsourcing deal with EDS, which was signed back in the late 1990s.

While the government has been under pressure to have up to a dozen contracts signed by year's end, the state's chief information officer (CIO) Grantly Mailes said the focus is on "doing deals well, not quickly".

Mailes pointed out that the state's outsourcing deal with EDS didn't expire until January 2007 and the government would use this time to get good deals for taxpayers.

Put simply, he would not be pressured into a bad deal just to meet a deadline.

Since the breakup of the $90 million-a-year EDS contract, the state's Opposition has been critical of the government for delaying new contracts.

The Opposition has also claimed the local technology services industry is being left out in the cold.

However, the SA Office of the CIO has used 2005 to undertake an assessment of the state's IT needs with Mailes claiming the government now has an annual spend of about $250 million a year to engage in multi-sourcing.

He said a number of software deals have been signed in recent months including a $30 million contract with Microsoft and a network management agreement with Novell.

"Initially, there was going to be 12 contracts available but that will be reduced to about eight," Mailes said, adding that the government will not be rushed into finalizing all of the contracts this year.

He said the government was acutely aware of the transition process and wanted to allow plenty of time to ensure the changeover was a smooth one.

In the past month, Mailes said, the government had signed a PABX maintenance support contract with NEC and a couple more would be completed by early next year.

"We are currently winding up negotiations and announcements will be made late this year or early next year," he said.

Mailes also said the state's main telecommunications contract would not be signed until late 2006.

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